Bari increasingly attractive for the integration activities of drones in the airspace

The final conference of the CORUS-XUAM Project, being held (on March 29 and 30, 2023) at the Bari Polytechnic University’s multimedia hall, marks a new step in the technological development to enable drone traffic and integrate it into traditional airspace. The solutions presented in Bari have been tested in several European states highlighting the development of connected solutions and enabling technologies with the prospect of implementing useful services for the community in the next 5-10 years.
The DTA (Aerospace Technology District) helped facilitate, as part of the Italian part of the project, the testing of procedures and solutions developed by ENAV and D-Flight to manage drone operations for the transportation of medical and health goods between the Grottaglie Experimental Airport (Grottaglie Airport Test Bed) and the city of Manduria.

During the conference, the results obtained from experiments in Belgium, Germany and the UK, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and France were compared, discussed, and summarized. The novelties of the CORUS-XUAM project mainly concern drone operations in urban and airport areas. Specific risk conditions related to the presence of anthropogenic activity (urban areas) and the presence of traditional air traffic were analyzed, with the search for solutions that guarantee absolute safety. Specific innovations of ATM (air traffic management) and UTM (unammedtraffic management) systems were defined and prototyped to support the planned and implemented experiments.

The DTA laboratory, connected to the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed program, was used as the command room for the Italian experimentation of the CORUS-XUAM project. The experimental drone flight activities carried out by DTA over the past 2 years have been instrumental in attracting the attention of the international partnership. DTA has deployed capacity and expertise to coordinate the experimentation from its design to implementation, going through the complex authorization process and involving local partners and institutions. The activities carried out by the Aerospace Technology District as part of the Corus Xuam project were illustrated by Antonio Zilli.

The Italian experimentation carried out is one of many organized by the DTA. The infrastructure for technological research for drone experimentation (Grottaglie Airport Test Bed) developed by DTA, in collaboration with industrial partners and universities (University of Salento, University of Bari, Bari Polytechnic) is an environment where laboratory initiatives and experimental flights are carried out safely and with maximum results for technological and industrial development.

The numerous experimental activities have enabled the development of drone flight capabilities, capabilities to interact with air traffic control (UTM) systems, and to deliver land management and control services, environmental monitoring services, transportation services(Innovative Aerial Service).
DTA’s program continues with the establishment of several other laboratories for research in technological areas that are not yet adequately mature (GNSS receivers and for Positioning, Navigation and Timing, artificial intelligence and cyber security applications for drones, sensors and applications for the identification of environmental hazards, operations and systems for monitoring critical infrastructure, …).

The Grottaglie Airport Test Bed is in essential context to carry out research projects in the technological areas that best enhance to Puglia’s specialties: the development of technologies to enable increasingly complex drone operations, the development of innovative drone air services for smart cities, and the development of innovative services for smart agriculture.

The president of Dta, Giuseppe Acierno, recalled how the final appointment of the Corus Xuam project , is “an opportunity to promote and present research activities supported by the European Commission involving companies and institutions with the aim of defining rules and technologies that one day will allow us to see the integration and cohabitation over our heads between traditional flights and new forms of air traffic.” “In this path Bari is central. We have managed, thanks to a public-private partnership, to build and strengthen over the years an excellence that is a reference point for new resources and investments in the sector.”

Giancarlo Ferrara, head of the Corus Xuam project on behalf of Eurocontrol (the European body that studies and develops rules to grow flight safety in collaboration with national bodies from 41 states) explained that the Italian experimentation has made it possible to “verify the feasibility dl transport of medical equipment in a safer, more efficient, faster and with lower costs both economic and environmental.” Ferrara explained that some other experiments presented in Bari and developed in various European states involved the transport of goods and people. “There is an ambition to offer this type of service to the community as soon as possible,” he added. “In France, the aim is to transport people with unmanned aircraft or to integrate into the traditional air network by 2024, when the Olympics will be held in Paris. In Italy, the Aeroporti di Roma company is experimenting with this type of transportation with the goal of using it in 2025. I think we need to wait until 2025-26 to have certainty about this type of activity.” concluded Ferrara.